A stern, old doctor (Victor Sjostrom) is preparing to travel by car to Lund to receive an honorary degree. He has a disquieting dream in which he perceives his own death as the frightening, lonely end to a hollow existence. In the morning, his gruff demeanor is considerably altered by the intimations of mortality. His daughter-in-law (Ingrid Thulin), who has inexplicably been visiting, decides to accompany him to Lund. En route they encounter a trio of mirthful teenagers, a bickering married couple, and grateful patients. They also visit the doctor's mother.

The dream and the journey unleash a recurring flood of memories of youthful summers at the family home among the wild strawberries and of his unrequited love for a beautiful cousin. He learns that his daughter-in-law is pregnant, but his only son is about to repeat his mistakes by rejecting an emotional bond with his wife and his future child in the empty pursuit of professional achievement. The pregnancy is the reason she left her husband to visit his father. At the end, the doctor establishes a small but real rapport with his son and achieves a degree of understanding about his own life.


A celebrated study that combines the surreal and the comic to rehearse the stages of a life. The metaphorical characters meet in flashbacks and along the voyage rehearse the doctor's naive youth, loveless marriage, and the fruits of dedicated service as a doctor, purchased at a high personal price. As with much of Bergman's work, the film is rich with light allusions to Greek drama (e.g. a "chorus" of mischievous, bespectacled twin girls who speak only truth and only in unison), to Chaucerian tales (e.g. the growing crowd of travelers, each with a story to tell), and to Jungian psychology.


In Swedish, subtitled.

Primary Source

Connoisseurs Video Collection, 1988